Noontime’s Way Too Early New England D-III Football Top 20 Poll

Elijah Nichols and the Framingham State Rams will once again be a team to watch in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Frank Poulin Photography).

By NoontimeSports.com

It’s time to start thinking about football — well, more the upcoming NCAA Division III season, to be exact.

It’s time to share our ‘Way Too Early‘ New England D-III Top 20 Poll, which may look similar to our final Top 20 from last season. But the expectation is the poll will change ahead of the opening week of the season — be on the lookout for some preseason and camp coverage later this summer.

Enjoy our early-season — well, way-too-early-season poll and feel free to let us know your thoughts by sending us a message on Instagram (@NoontimeNation) and or tweet on Twitter (@NoontimeSports).

Noontime’s Way Too Early New England NCAA D-III Football Poll

  1. Endicott College (8-3, 5-1 CCC): The Gulls captured their first conference crown last fall since 2013 and will certainly be ready to defend it this season.

  2. Framingham State (8-3, 8-0 MASCAC): Coach Tom Kelley and the Rams will once again be a team to watch — maybe the team to beat? — in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) this fall.

  3. UMass Dartmouth (9-2, 6-2 MASCAC): The Corsairs capped their 2021 season with a New England Bowl victory. Expect their win over Alfred State to provide the squad with some additional momentum this season.

  4. Husson University (7-3, 4-2 CCC): Quarterback Nic Visser is just one of many student-athletes to watch this fall on the Eagles.

  5. Trinity College (8-1, 8-1 NESCAC): Look for a big year from halfback Will Kirby.

  6. Wesleyan University (6-3, 6-3 NESCAC): The Cardinals are going to surprise many New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football fans.

  7. Salve Regina University (8-2, 4-2 CCC): Last season, the Seahawks won eight games for the first time since 2016.

  8. Springfield College (7-4, 6-0 NEWMAC): The Pride should be the favorite to win the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) this fall.

  9. Western New England (7-4, 5-1 CCC): Members of the 2019 and 2021 squad have graduated, which means it’s time for some new Golden Bears to step up.

  10. Bridgewater State (6-4, 6-2 MASCAC): This could be a big year for halfback Adam Couch.

  11. Plymouth State (5-5, 5-3 MASCAC): Like the Cardinals of Wesleyan, the Panthers are going to surprise fans of the MASCAC.

  12. Anna Maria College (7-3, 5-1 ECFC): A new chapter of AMCATs football begins this fall with first-year coach Steve Croce.

  13. University of New England (4-5, 2-4 CCC): This Nor’easters squad proved they’re going to get better every season.

  14. Tufts University (4-5, 4-5 NESCAC): Don’t sleep on the Jumbos this year.

  15. Amherst College (5-4, 5-4 NESCAC): A five-point setback to Williams at the end of last year will be the motivation for the Purple and White this fall.

  16. Williams College (9-0, 9-0 NESCAC): After producing its first-ever nine-win season in program history, these Ephs have some graduation holes to fill.

  17. MIT (5-4, 3-3 NEWMAC): One has to think “Bubna Magic” will return after a 5-4 season last fall.

  18. Western Conn. (5-5, 4-4 MASCAC): After posting just five wins for the first time since 2016, one should expect coach Joe Loth‘s squad to bounce back and be in the mix for a conference crown.

  19. Colby College (4-5, 4-5 NESCAC): Expect the Mules to capture the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) crown again this fall.

  20. WPI (3-7, 2-4 NEWMAC): After a down year, expect the Engineers to bounce back with possibly one or two new signal-callers.

On the Rise: Coast Guard Academy, Curry College, Dean College, and Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

Five Teams That Could Win The CCC This Fall

Quarterback Mike Ingraffia will be a player to watch on offense this fall at Endicott College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Tammy McManaway)

By Matt Noonan

Last fall, Endicott College captured its first conference crown in eight seasons by winning the Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC) league with an 8-2 record.

The Gulls, which advanced to the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament, saw their run toward a national title conclude with a 20-14 setback to RPI.

Despite ending their season with a six-point setback to the Engineers, Endicott should once again be in the mix for the conference crown. But the same could be said for a few other teams in the CCC, which will be ready to challenge the Gulls for some hardware.

Here are five teams that I believe can win the Commonwealth Coast Football league this year.

Endicott: I believe the Gulls can win their second-straight title, but their path to their fourth conference crown in program history won’t be easy.

For the Gulls to enjoy another successful campaign, they will need a similar effort this fall from quarterback Mike Ingraffia, who capped his sophomore season with career-highs in passing yards (1,531) and touchdowns (15).

Ingraffia is just one of many student-athletes to watch on the Gulls this fall, specifically its offense, but the same could be said for classmate and wide Shane Aylward, who ended the 2021 season as the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. Aylward ranked fifth in the conference in receiving yards (712) while finishing tied for sixth with five touchdown receptions.

Colin Meropoulos was named the CCC Defensive Rookie of the Year and will be tasked with leading a defense that limited its opponents to 19.5 points per game.

Husson University: One should never count out coach Nat Clark’s Eagles, which concluded its 2021 campaign with a 7-3 record.

For the Eagles to enjoy another successful campaign, they will need some key members of last year’s squad to step up this year, including wide receiver Jon Bell, who concluded the 2021 season with career-bests in receptions (49), receiving yards (753), and touchdowns (four). Bell will most likely be targeted a few more times this fall by quarterback Nic Visser, who led the conference in passing yards (2,598).

Linebacker Tucker Buzzell will be the player to watch on defense after leading Husson with 85 total tackles last fall.  

Salve Regina University: For the first time since 2016, the Seahawks ended its season with eight wins, thanks to an impressive opening month that saw Salve Regina win four straight non-conference contests, including an epic come-from-behind win over Rowan University.

The team’s early-season momentum came to an end in early October with a 41-3 setback to Western New England.

Salve Regina would bounce back by winning four of their final five contests.

The biggest question facing this year’s squad is who will return this fall? Salve Regina’s roster featured eight graduate students last fall, along with 21 seniors, including halfback Joey Mauriello, but one player that will return this year – and is someone to watch – is linebacker Zachary Ludemann. The Howell, New Jersey native placed 11th in the conference in total tackles (69.0).

Western New England: For the second-straight season, the Golden Bears won five of six conference contests. But their lone setback to Endicott resulted in Western New England missing the national postseason for the first time in two years.

Will the loss to the Gulls be this year’s motivation for the Yellow and Blue?

Endicott and Western New England are scheduled to compete at the end of the season, so perhaps the final game could determine the conference’s winner.

The Golden Bears featured three different quarterbacks last fall, including Bryce Karstetter and Conrad Swanson, who will likely compete for the starting job this summer. But in addition to the team’s quarterback battle, keep an eye on the wide receivers and tight ends. Steven Fedorchak and Adam Razza have graduated, which means we could see Greg Perry and Ryan Larson become the squad’s top two receivers.  

No matter the make-up of this year’s Golden Bears, the expectation is coach Jason Lebeau’s squad will be ready to contend for its fourth CCC title.

University of New England: For the second-straight season, the Nor’easters won four games, including a pair of league tilts.

Can they double that win total this fall?

Perhaps they can, but for UNE to do that, they will need to play some of its best football early on.

UNE ended its 2021 season with a wild victory over Curry College, which highlighted a few players to watch this fall.

One of those players to watch in 2022 is quarterback Jarrett Henault, a Goffstown, New Hampshire native that threw for a career and season-high five touchdowns in his team’s win over the Colonels. Henault appeared in eight contests last season and will be tasked with leading an offense that will feature Mikey Brennan, Jakob Rivers, and Shane LaPorte this fall.

While the offense has a chance to improve from one year ago, the same could be said for the Nor’easter defense, which will be led by David Hutchison, a defensive lineman from St Johnsbury, Vermont.

UNE might be a longshot to win the CCC, but they certainly proved last season that they can contend with some of the best teams in the conference.

Five New England D3 Football Teams to Watch In 2022

Alex Cohen and the Anna Maria College football team will be a squad to watch in 2022. (PHOTO COURTESY: Brian Foley)

By NoontimeSports.com

It’s time to kick off our preseason football coverage – are you ready for some football?

Yes, we know the Boston Celtics are occupying our attention while writing this post, but while we anxiously wait for the fourth game of the NBA Finals to tip off tomorrow evening, let’s highlight five teams New England NCAA Division III football fans should watch this fall.  

Anna Maria College: Quarterback Alex Cohen is back, along with some key members of last year’s squad, which captured its first-ever Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) title.

Cohen will certainly be a player to watch this fall after concluding the 2021 season with career-highs in passing yards (3,087) and touchdown passes (23).

Wide receiver Hayden Braga returns for another season, as well, along with Alvin Martin (linebacker) and Armstrong Antoine (defensive back) – all three student-athletes, along with Cohen, should help the AMCATs contend for their second-straight conference crown.

Anna Maria is scheduled to face some challenging conference foes in September, beginning with their season-opener against UMass Dartmouth.

Colby College: Coach Jack Cosgrove has the Mules heading in the right direction.

Last year, Colby won four games for the first time since finishing 4-4 in 2013. The Mules scored some important early and mid-season wins over Amherst College and Middlebury College while providing some challenges for Hamilton College and Tufts University.

Halfback Keon Smart will be a player to watch on offense – the sophomore tailback finished his initial season with the Mules last fall with 248 rushing yards on 69 carries and three touchdowns.

Colby will commence its 2022 season at home against Williams College.   

Curry College: A new era of Colonels football has begun with the hiring of first-year coach Todd Parsons.

Parsons, who oversaw the Endicott College offense last fall, inherits a squad that finished 3-6 last season, including 1-5 in Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC).

Michael Sims will be a player to watch on the Colonels after concluding his initial season with the Purple and White with 49 total tackles, including 26 solo stops to go with one fumble recovery, one interception, and one pass break-up.

Sims played high school football in Connecticut and was a two-way player for Griswold High School. He played fullback on offense and linebacker on defense. Maybe we could see him play fullback this fall?

Curry will begin its 2022 season at home against MIT.

Dean College: Like Curry, Dean will have a new leader of its football program with Andrae Murphy returning to his alma mater to coach a Bulldogs squad that won just two games last fall.

Errol Breaux, the team’s leading wide receiver, was a player to watch last fall as he led the receiving core in catches (75), receiving yards (1,215), and touchdowns (eight). Quintus Reid was also a player to watch on offense as the New Haven, Connecticut native concluded his junior season with 52 receptions and six touchdowns.

It’s likely Murphy’s signal-caller will be David Curry, who was spotted under center every game last fall. He completed 196 of 351 passes for 2,585 yards and 18 touchdowns. Curry also led the rushing attack with 627 yards and six touchdowns.

Dean will travel to Fitchburg State for its season-opener.

University of New England: For the second time in program history, the Nor’easters concluded its campaign with four wins (they won a program-record four wins in 2019 after capping their inaugural campaign one year earlier with just two victories).

Last fall, UNE gained our attention by scoring an impressive early-season win against Bridgewater State, which saw the Blue and White outscore the hosts, 14-0, in the second half to set up a game-winning field goal by Ruelas Villasen in overtime.

In addition to their come-from-behind win against the Bears of Bridgewater, they also provided some challenges for Endicott and Western New England down the stretch. They capped their 2021 campaign with a wild victory over Curry.

The team’s late-season win over the Colonels, which was highlighted by five passing touchdowns by Jarrett Henault should provide the Nor’easters with some momentum heading into four this season in program history.

UNE will begin its season on the road at Coast Guard Academy.

10 D-III Lacrosse Teams to Watch in 2023

Jane Earley has won two national championships with Middlebury College. (PHOTO Courtesy: Will Costello)

By Matt Noonan

It’s been a few days – OK, a little over a week since the NCAA Division III college lacrosse season concluded, but before we officially say farewell to the 2022 season, I thought I would share a ten teams – five men and five women’s squads – that I believe could contend for a national championship next May.

Men’s D-III Lacrosse Teams to Watch in 2023

Bowdoin College: The Polar Bears were a team to watch this spring — hey, I thought they were the team that was going to win the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) crown last month. Despite ending their season in the quarterfinals against RIT, Bowdoin is certainly a squad to keep an eye on next spring. Coach Bill Mason will welcome back some key members of this year’s team, including Will Byrne (68 goals, 33 assists), Patrick Fitzgerald (53 goals, 16 assists), and Ethan Barnard (342 face-off wins) that will certainly help Bowdoin contend for both a conference and national title.

RIT: Coach Jake Coon and the 2022 Tigers joined an elite group of teams that captured back-to-back titles in NCAA D-III lacrosse history, but could they really contend for a third consecutive crown next spring? I believe they can, despite losing some talented upperclassmen, but if the Tigers are able to win their third-straight title, they would become the first team since Salisbury University to capture three-straight championships (Salisbury won three consecutive NCAA titles in 2003, 2004, and 2005).

Tufts University: The Jumbos’ run toward a national championship was quite exciting with the Powder Blue and Brown scoring two impressive postseason wins against St. John Fisher College and Salisbury. Tufts’ season concluded in the semifinals with a 26-15 setback to RIT. Like Bowdoin, Tufts will return some key pieces from its 19-win squad next spring that will certainly be players to watch, including Jack Boyden and Tommy Swank.

Union College: The Dutchmen’s run toward its first-ever national championship was exciting — can I say entertaining, as well? Union should be in the mix again next spring, despite graduating some key members of its 2022 squad. Dan Donahue will return between the pipes next season after an impressive second year with the squad that saw the Weston, Massachusetts native record a career-best 240 stops and 17 wins.

York College: Despite ending its season in the national semifinals, the Spartans run toward a championship was highlighted by two postseason victories over Christopher Newport and Southern Virginia. They will lose some key veterans that were either graduate students or seniors this spring, but will welcome back Ben Mayer, a first-year attack from Palm Harbor, Florida that led the Green and White with 90 points on 58 goals and 32 assists.

Others to watch: Albion College, Amherst College, Christopher Newport, Denison University, Dickinson College, Gettysburg College, RPI, Salisbury University, St. John Fisher, Wesleyan University, and Western New England

Women’s D-III Lacrosse Teams to Watch in 2023

Middlebury College: After being idle for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Panthers continued their previous momentum from 2019 and their first three matchups in 2020 by winning 22 of 23 contests this spring, including the national title game. Jane Earley guided Middlebury to its second title in three years, as well as its eighth in program history. Earley, who established new single-season records for goals (80) and points (99), will be one of many players to watch next year.

Salisbury University: Despite ending their 2022 campaign without some hardware, the Sea Gulls were once again a team to watch after finishing the 2021 season as national champions. Coach Jim Nestor will welcome back some key pieces from its 2021 and 2022 squads, including Erin Scannell, who led Salisbury with 55 goals, which should help Salisbury be in the mix for its fifth crown in program history.

The College of New Jersey (TCNJ): After scoring two impressive postseason wins over Salisbury University and SUNY Cortland last month, the Lions’ momentum vanished in the national semifinals with an 18-7 setback to Tufts. The loss, however, could help the Lions understand what they must do to contend for the program’s 14th national championship. TCNJ has not won a national championship since 2006.

Tufts University: For the second-straight season, coach Courtney Shute‘s Jumbos fell short of winning the program’s initial title. But perhaps this year’s defeat to Middlebury will be the inspiration to win the crown in 2023? Like every team, the Jumbos will graduate some key pieces from this year’s squad, including goalie Molly Laliberty and midfielder Anna Clarke.

Washington and Lee: The Generals ended their season by matching their program record for wins with 19. Washington and Lee saw its bid toward a national title conclude in the quarterfinals against Gettysburg College, but the loss will certainly fuel the Blue and White next season, which returns some impressive talent that has guided the unit to 33 wins in its last 37 contests.

Others to watch: Capital University, Colby College, Franklin & Marshall, Gettysburg College, Ithaca College, Kenyon College, Pomona-Pitzer, Rhodes College, Roanoke College, SUNY Cortland, SUNY SUNY Geneseo, University of Chicago, Wesleyan University, and William Smith

Noontime’s D-III Lacrosse Championship Predictions

Middlebury College’s Emma White and the Panthers defense has been a unit to watch this postseason. (PHOTO COURTESY: Will Costello)

By Matt Noonan

The time has come to crown not one, but two NCAA Division III lacrosse champions.

This weekend, six teams – four women’s and two men’s – will contend for the ultimate prize of a national championship.

But before the games commence, it is time to share my picks – well, more my thoughts, to exact, as to who I think will win this year’s titles.

Let’s begin with the four teams competing for the women’s national championship in Salem, Virginia.

NCAA D-III Women’s Semifinals & Championship Predictions

Middlebury College over Gettysburg College: It’s too bad this matchup had to occur in the semifinals – it would have been great to see both teams square off on Sunday in the championship.  

This weekend will be the last time Carol Cantele and Barb Jordan will pace the Gettysburg sidelines – the Bullets enter the last weekend of the season with a 13-game winning streak.

Cantele credits the opponents her team faced two months ago to prepare her squad for a challenging postseason run, which began with an extra session win over Roanoke College in the second round.

Jordan Basso is the player to watch on Gettysburg – the sophomore attack from Rye, New York leads the Orange and Blue in goals (65) and points (101).

Middlebury was idle last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but their championship momentum from 2019 has remained with the Navy Blue and White, which is seeking its eighth title in program history, as well as its third crown since 2016.

The Panthers’ defense has been a unit to watch this postseason. They have limited its three postseason foes to six goals or less, and have received a major boost from goalie Annie Enrietto, who has turned aside 21 shots in her team’s last three contests. She denied 11 shots on Sunday during her team’s second meeting of the season with Colby College.  

Jennifer LaRocca and the TCNJ women’s lacrosse team scored back-to-back wins last weekend over Salisbury University and SUNY Cortland. (PHOTO COURTESY: Jimmy Alagna/TCNJ Athletics)

Tufts University over The College of New Jersey (TCNJ): TCNJ’s path to championship weekend wasn’t an easy one.

The Lions had to beat three teams, including Salisbury University and SUNY Cortland in back-to-back games last weekend, which is not an easy task. But perhaps their wins over the Red Dragons and Sea Gulls will provide TCNJ with enough momentum to beat Tufts, a squad that has ended the Lions’ last two postseason trips.

Like TCNJ, Tufts enters its semifinal matchup with a great deal of momentum, which began after the team’s last setback to Amherst College in April. After losing to the Mammoths in overtime, the Jumbos have been on a roll, winning their second-straight New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Tournament crown while scoring three impressive postseason wins.

Perhaps the Jumbos’ most impressive win of the postseason came on Sunday evening as Tufts converted seven of 12 free position goals against Franklin & Marshall to clinch its third trip to the semifinals since 2019.

Last season, the Jumbos came close to winning their first-ever national title but saw their hopes dashed by an extra Salisbury tally by Delaney Hill. Tufts would respond, netting three-straight goals in less than two minutes, but its final marker by Caroline Walter concluded the Jumbos’ comeback.

The loss to Salisbury, along with an extra session defeat to Amherst might be enough motivation for Tufts to find a way to beat TCNJ for the fourth time in the last three years.

Middlebury over Tufts in the 2022 NCAA D-III Title Game: Get ready for an all-NESCAC championship.

Middlebury and Tufts almost met in the title round three years ago when both teams appeared in the national semifinals. But Tufts saw its season conclude against Salisbury, which would then fall to Middlebury in the championship.

So, let’s try this again.

Middlebury beat Tufts earlier this spring by seven goals, thanks to a four-point (three goals, one assist) effort from Jane Earley, along with a hat trick by Susan Rowley.

Tufts would win the next meeting by one goal when the two teams met in the NESCAC Championship earlier this month. The Jumbos’ defense highlighted the win, especially at the very end as the unit denied a pair of free-position attempts by Hope Shue.

The Jumbos’ 9-8 win over the Panthers snapped Middlebury’s 42-game winning streak, which began with a 16-1 victory over Springfield College on March 8, 2019.

Since falling to Tufts, Middlebury has looked impressive. They tallied 22 goals in back-to-back games against SUNY Geneseo and the University of Chicago, before relying on its defense to slow down a Colby squad that had produced 33 goals in back-to-back postseason contests.  

While Tufts’ run to the national semifinals has been exciting – and yes, impressive, too – it just seems like their luck or momentum will disappear in the third meeting with Middlebury, which seems determined to conclude its current campaign with some hardware.


NCAA D-III Men’s Championship Predictions

Ryan Puglisi and the Union College defense shined last Sunday against York College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Clara Lodice)

Union College over Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT): Who doesn’t like an underdog story?

Union may not be the favorite, but it seems as if many within the D-III world are pulling for the Dutchmen to win their initial national championship.

The Dutchmen have enjoyed an impressive season, winning 18 of 20 contests with perhaps their most exciting wins occurring last weekend over Gettysburg College and York College. Both wins were exciting but also proved this year’s Dutchmen can win a championship.

For Union to complete its storybook season with a title, they will need to find a way to slow down an RIT squad that has produced 20 goals or more in four postseason contests this spring.

The Tigers won their first-ever championship last year by outlasting Salisbury in double-overtime.

RIT has beaten Union in its last 20 meetings, including an NCAA Tournament clash in 2019. The Tigers won both meetings last spring, including an 11-9 victory in the Liberty League (LL) semifinals.  

Marley Angus highlighted RIT’s one-goal win over Union last month as the senior midfielder concluded the game with four goals, two assists, and two ground balls. Keaton McCann led Union with five goals on eight shots.

McCann has been a player to watch on Union this postseason. The senior attack from Briarcliff, New York has recorded three goals or more in four contests while netting the game-winner last Saturday against Gettysburg.   


NCAA D-III Championship Weekend Schedule

WLAX D-III Semifinal: Middlebury vs Gettysburg on Saturday, May 28 at 12 p.m.

WLAX D-III Semifinal: Tufts vs. TCNJ on Saturday, May 28 at 3:00 p.m.

MLAX D-III Championship: RIT vs. Union on Sunday, May 29 at 1 p.m.

WLAX D-III Championship: Middlebury/Gettysburg vs. TCNJ/Tufts on Sunday, May 29 at 3:30 p.m.

All three women’s games will occur in Salem, Virginia while the men’s championship will take place in East Hartford, Connecticut.